Over the last few months, I have spent some time pondering whether it is better to have a single Twitter account used for a range of purposes, or multiple accounts covering a range of interests and audiences.
My feeling is that it is harder to maintain relationships across multiple accounts and that you lose out on the opportunity of discovering unexpected connections and shared interests with people. With a single account, although your tweets become diluted, as long as you partially remain relevant, your followers will scan past the irrelevant tweets.
About a month or so ago I decided to see what other people though, so I asked my followers to complete a short survey about how they use Twitter.
This post contains the results of the survey – to be followed by another post with my conclusions. If you want your thoughts on the results included in the follow up post, please leave a comment!
1. How many active Twitter accounts do you have?
There was a total of 44 surveys completed covering at least 93 accounts.
2. What do you use each of your Twitter accounts for?
As I started putting together the results of the survey, it quickly became apparent that I had asked this question wrong – by allowing multiple answers it makes it next to impossible to draw any conclusions from some of the other questions.
In order to rectify this I have had to attempt to work out a category for each account based on the answers given. I realise this is not very scientific, potentially adds bias, and is slightly arbitrary, but hopefully it will mean that subsequent questions can be analysed better. The categories used were:
- Personal (General) – personal account used for a mix of work and socialising
- Personal (Work) – personal account used primarily for work
- Personal (Social) – personal account used primarily for socialising
- Interest – account primarily used for a niche interest (usually a personal account)
- Organisation – account representing an organisation
- Event – account primarily for an event
- Specific – account primarily for a specific project, website or audience
- Character – a character account (pet, child, partner, object etc)
- Client – an account managed on behalf of a client
- Data Feed – an account primarily used to publish data
I have also grouped all the secondary accounts together for comparison purposes.
3. What “voice” do you use for each Twitter account?
For the primary main account – the vast majority (95%) of the respondents tweet in their own voice.
For the secondary accounts:
4. How would you best describe how you keep up with your followers’ tweets?
And for secondary accounts broken down by category:
5. If you have more than one account, in general how easy or difficult do you find the following?
6. Do you feel it is better to have a single personal account covering everything or separate accounts for each of your major interests?
7. What are the main reasons for deciding to unfollow someone on Twitter?
- Too much cross pollination from other accounts – if you don’t follow them why should you get updates?
- Having 2 or 3 accounts and tweeting the same thing from all accounts
8. My theory
I have a theory of “follower credits” – for each of your followers you earn credits for being interactive, sharing relevant links and tweeting about relevant topics. However you lose credits for being annoyingly irrelevant (I think there is a certain tolerance for irrelevance, as we all skim read looking for relevance tweets, and ignore the irrelevant). You will keep your follower, as long as your “follower credits” are positive. Do you agree?
I think I confused a lot of people with this question – I did not mean that this should be a forced policy on Twitter, it is just my explanation of how we process and manage our followers.
The results were:
- YES: 34%
- NO: 27%
- MAYBE: 39%
9. Do you have any other comments?
- I never follow ppl who have an incomplete profile and/or no or an irrelevent profile image – since it makes it hard to understand who they are.
- What proportion of your followers have you come to regard as actual “friends”? (as defined by: would meet in a pub very happily)
Do you consider these followers to have positive follower credits regardless? (within reason)
- The one thing that drives me mental is when someone with X thousand followers asks for help. You go out your way to provide info or a link… And then see they reply to their thanks to 3 other ‘big’ twitter geeks, completely ignoring you! I don’t forget that, if if follower credits exist, they get MASSIVE negative credits for that! Usually unfollowed the next time they do something that annoys me. Cheers!
- One of the most annoying things is when you keep replying to someone and they NEVER reply back. I’m not talking about celebrities with a million followers, but people who might be well known within a niche market, who have a few thousand followers or so. It’s as if they get a superiority complex and become very arrogant, and tend to lack common courtesy and manners. Also, people who reply with full-stops before their tweets are very annoying.
- That’s another good question – how annoying do non-participants find extended @ conversations – is there a limit? [from Twitter]
- survey asks a lot about why we unfollow but doesn’t ask why we choose to follow people? [from Twitter]